In many developing countries, bread consumption is continually expanding and there is increasing dependence on imported wheat. Most of these countries grow staples other than wheat that can be used for bread. Some grow starchy tubers such as cassava, yam or sweet potatoes while others grow cereals such as maize, millet or sorghum. It would be advantageous for these countries to minimize or even eliminate the importation of wheat by using other locally produced starch tubers for bread instead of wheat.

Nigerian food import bills have reached an unprecedented level and government is very concerned. At last count, they have surpassed N1.3 trillion per annum and grow at about 11 percent per year. The bills fuel inflation, exacerbate poverty, overheat the economy and very unsustainable.

The most obnoxious of the bills is importation of wheat which is about N635 billion per annum. The government is so aggrieved that it has taken a drastic step to cut down the import volume by initiating the inclusion of 40 percent cassava flour in all bread consumed inNigeria, the Cassava Composite Bread.


FAO and Composite Flour

The Composite Flour Programme was initiated by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations in 1964 to develop bakery products from locally available raw materials, particularly in those countries that could not meet their wheat requirements. Experiments in some countries show that bread from non wheat flour alone or mixed with wheat are as good in quality and appearance as those of wheat flour. InIndia, a product called Tapioca Macroni was developed by adding cassava flour to groundnut meal and wheat semolina and it is well accepted by consumers.

FAO is partnering with several organizations in different parts of the world to promote Composite Flour. The experiment carried out by the British Arkady Co Ltd used 60 percent wheat flour, 30 percent cassava flour and 10 percent soybean flour to produce bread of good quality, almost equal to the normal wheat flour bread in volume, appearance and eating quality.


Nutritional Value of Composite Flour

The nutritional value of bakery products from composite flour was assessed in 1965 by the Central Institute of Nutrition and Food Research,Utrecht,Zeist. The nutritional value of cassava/soybread and cassava/groundnut bread was compared with the protein quality of common wheat bread and it was concluded that the protein quality of both breads was more than that of common wheat bread. The cassava/soybread topped the other two breads in protein quality while the cassava/groundnut breads were slightly superior to the common wheat bread.

Prospects and consumption of bread made of composite flour in different countries depend on local acceptance and price to the public. Food consumption and habits are primarily based on socioeconomic and other factors rather than on scientific considerations. Changes in established habits take place gradually through public education and enlightenment.


Inception of Cassava flour Composite Bread in Nigeria

Government has given Flour Millers and Bakers 18 months with effect from March 31, 2012 to move to 40 percent substitution of wheat flour with high quality cassava flour. Flour processors are hesitant arguing that 40 percent inclusion is nut feasible. But UTC Nigeria PLC has gone ahead to match the quality of the bread produced from the high quality cassava flour with that of 100 percent wheat flour. They emphasized that they would meet the government target and that the new initiative will require additional investments in production, warehousing and distribution facilities. They claimed that the long-term benefits to the economy would outweigh the challenges. UTC Plc is the baker of the popular “Valu Bread”.


Supply of Cassava flour for the Composite Bread

Government is working with the private sector to establish 12 high quality Cassava processing plants with an installed capacity of 240 tonnes per day to meet part of the needed supply of cassava flour for the 40 percent Composite Bread. Each of the plants will have capacity of 20mt/day. It is estimated that about 1.3 million mt of cassava flour will be required annually to meet the demands of 40 percent composite bread. Entrepreneurs are encouraged to take advantage of this opportunity to create wealth for their communities, add value to their lives, develop new capacities for their economies, generate employment and eradicate poverty by establishing cassava processing plants to be part of the value chain for the initiative. Cassava is grown in the rural areas and most of the processing plants will be located there to transform the areas and to empower the people.


Supply of Cassava Tubers for the High Quality Cassava Flour

Government intends to source the cassava tubers through the establishment of out grower farmers and access to inputs, finance and tractors and rural roads infrastructure, up-grade and raising cassava productivity on farms from 12mt/hactre to 25mt/hactre through demonstration and dissemination of proven improved production technologies.

About 5.2 million tubers will be required annually to produce 1.3 million mt of high quality flour for the composite bread. Cassava is grown lavishly in all the Southern andMiddleBeltStatesand we produce over 41 million mts per annum which makes us the highest producers in the world. About 70 percent of our cassava output is consumed as garri, fufu, elebo and other farms of foods; only about 30 percent is used as industrial raw material and for export. To accomplish the 40 percent composite bread and to export about 1 million mts of cassava chips toChina(as envisioned by the government) we must drastically increase our output to 90 million mt/year.




 The Need and Urgency to Plant more Cassava Tubers

The urgency and need to plant more cassava to accomplish the 40 percent Composite Bread cannot be over emphasized. The 40 percent composite Bread will save us N254 billion annually in wheat import and the export of 1 million mt of cassava chips will bring in over $200 million into our economy. Also, over 6 million new jobs will be created both in the up-stream and down-stream sectors of the cassava industry. These are enormous advantages that should not be overlooked.


How we can increase our Cassava tubers output and the output of cassava flour.

About Sixty percent of our population is youths between the ages of 18-32 and most of them are either unemployed or under-employed. If we take a segment of them, the university graduates who are undergoing the National Youth Service and mobilize about is 75 percent of them who are serving in all Southern and Middle Belt states into cultivation of cassava with the new facilities and inputs the government has proposed, they will produce over 20 million mts of cassava tubers. Each group of 20 students headed by a student who studied Agriculture will be allotted 500 hectares of land in a local Government Area to cultivate cassava with all the pertinent inputs. With adequate support and inputs, we expect the yield to be 25mt/hectare and the gestation period to be 9-10 months. This will create jobs for the youths.


Output of Cassava Flour

The 12 cassava processing plants of 240 mt/day will not be adequate. Private processors all over the country should be involved to make the gains of the composite bread more meaningful We propose that the Cassava Empowerment Fund which was incepted by the Flour Millers Association with an initial grant of N 500 million should be resuscitated and reinvigorated with adequate funds to become a window for those who want to go into cassava processing. To produce the 1.3million mt of cassava flour required, we need about 157 new processors doing 2mt/day for 6 days a week. Locally fabricated processors of 2mt/day is what are presently available in the country. The cassava Empowerment Fund is domiciled with Bank of Agriculture (BOA) but the programme should be enlarged and extended to BOI and other banks.


Unemployed youths and students who participated in the cultivation of cassava tubers during their NYSC programme should be encouraged to go into cassava processing by giving them access to the cassava Empowerment Funds. This will help to curb youth unemployment, restiveness and other dislocations we are presently involved in.

Government Incentives for 40 percent Composite Bread

Government has given some incentives to cushion some of the costs and overhead of the substitution.

Tax Rebate: About 12 percent tax rebate is available for bakers of cassava bread as part of the measures to encourage the production and consumption of cassava bread.

Equipment Rebate: All equipment and machinery for processing high quality cassava flour as well as composite flours will attract zero taxes.

Rebate for Flour Millers: All flour millers who attain 40 percent substitution will receive 12 percent tax rebate.


Government has also taken the following steps to affirm her determination on the 40 percent composite bread.

1.       From March 31, 2012 importation of cassava flour will be prohibited.

2.       All bakers will have 18 months to move to 40 percent cassava flour content.

3.       Wheat flour importation will attract 100 percent duty.

4.       Wheat grain will attract duty of 20 percent.


Some of the Advantages of the Composite Bread

  1. The country will save over N254 billion annually on importation of wheat.
  2. About 6 million jobs will be created in the upstream and downstream sections of the cassava industry.
  3. It will reduce youth unemployment which is the bane of our restiveness and social dislocations.
  4. It will stimulate other cassava related businesses like export of chips, starch, production of ethanol, glucose etc.
  5. It will stimulate prosperity and employment in the rural areas where cassava is grown and processed.
  6. It will make more food available.
  7. It will create over 157 new cassava processors and over 5 million new cassava tuber growers to produce the over 20 million mt of cassava tubers required.
  8. Over N20 billion worth of new investments from the public and the private sectors shall be injected into the cassava sector. This will create new entrepreneurs and opportunities in the economy.
  9. Massive cultivation of cassava tubers and processing of cassava into flour in the rural areas will reverse the trend of migration to the cities, create local livelihood opportunities that will enable businesses and households to thrive in their local domains and generate sustainable prosperity to reduce poverty in the rural areas.
  10. It is a sustainable intervention in poverty alleviation because it will enable the rural folks to escape extreme poverty and ascend the ladder of economic growth.
  11. It will strengthen farm-to-market linkages: the tubers from the farms are processed and sold domestically, regionally, nationally and internationally. The market dynamics will create regional economic engines that will enhance entreprenural growth.